Could this be love? is a bilingual anthology – all contributions are included in English and German – with personal essays on interracial relationships. It is one of the first books to be published by the newly founded InterKontinental Verlag. The editor is Stefanie Hirsbrunner, one of the co-founders of the publishing house, which complements the bookshop in Berlin-Friedrichshain that has already been in existence since 2018. InterKontinental specialises in African and Afro-diasporic literature and – if the bookshop and publishing house weren’t enough – InterKontinental also hosts the annual African Book Festival in Berlin, where this year’s volume was presented by some of its contributors.
Could this be love? brings together 16 contributions including a foreword by Emilia Roig, who is something of a household name since the publication of her bestseller Why We Matter: The End of Oppression. Roig’s contribution gives an overview of the structures in which every relationship is embedded and thus lays the foundation for the personal reflections on relationship experiences that follow. In different ways, each contribution shows that something as private as a relationship is absolutely political – especially when it comes to people who position themselves differently in relation to race. In addition to race, any number of chapters also mention cultural identity and nationality as components that further complicate relationships. To give just a few examples: Tammi L. Cole, a Black US-American, writes about her relationship with a white German with whom she lives in Berlin, and how she navigates Black and white spaces. Marie-Sophie Adeoso is a white German and reports, among other things, on the bureaucratic hurdles she and her Nigerian husband had to overcome in order to live together in Frankfurt. Aseman Bahadori grew up in Germany as the daughter of Iranian parents and reflects on several relationships and the ways her dating behaviour changes in the Netherlands and Berlin with white men and men of Colour. The focus of the anthology is clearly on heterosexual relationships, but Nigerian writer Jude Dibia reports on his first contacts with the gay scene in Sweden, Jennifer Neal writes about interracial friendship, and Goitseone Montsho writes a letter to her daughter.
The narrators make themselves vulnerable and thus all seem to be pursuing a desire for structural change. The topics addressed include visa policies, the legacy of historical prohibitions on interracial relationships (e.g. during apartheid in South Africa or the Nazi era in Germany), tokenism and the fetishisation of Black bodies. Even though the individual contributions were written by very different authors, one question runs like a thread through the book: Who can live where and with whom? Could this be Love presents a myriad of problems, but recognising these surely helps efforts to make love freer.